SpaceX Falcon 9 Positioned as the Most Popular New Launch Vehicle in a Generation

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

SpaceX Falcon 9 Carrying Koreasat-5A. Source: Flickr/SpaceX

On October 30, 2017, SpaceX successfully launched the Koreasat-5A satellite from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Falcon 9 delivered the Koreasat-5A to its targeted orbit and the satellite was deployed approximately 36 minutes after liftoff. Continue reading

Elon Musk Unveils More Details about Mars Colony

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

For the second year in a row, Elon Musk has used the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) to unveil plans about his dream of developing a colony on Mars. During this year’s event – held in Adelaide, Australia – Musk disclosed plans that were much more practical than the ones he revealed at last year’s event in Guadalajara, Mexico. However, his plans are still a long way from becoming a reality. Continue reading

Northrop Grumman Acquisition of Orbital ATK Strengthens Diverse Space Offerings

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, and Richard Pettibone, Aerospace & Defense Companies Analyst, Forecast International.

Antares launch. Source: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Behind all the sound and fury surrounding the recent UTC/Rockwell deal, Northrop Grumman quietly moved in earlier this week and scooped up rocket and missile maker Orbital ATK in a deal valued at $9.2 billion.  Under the agreement Northrop Grumman will acquire Orbital ATK for approximately $7.8 billion in cash, plus the assumption of $1.4 billion in net debt. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2018 and is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory and Orbital ATK shareholder approval. Continue reading

Cornyn, Culberson Restart Debate on Future of NASA’s Human Spaceflight Efforts

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

Falcon 9 Launch. Source – SpaceX

U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and U.S. Representative John Culberson (TX-07) have introduced a bill in Congress to require NASA to develop plans for the future of U.S. human space exploration, with the goal of landing an astronaut on Mars. The plan is called the Mapping a New and Innovative Focus on our Exploration Strategy (MANIFEST) for Human Spaceflight Act. According to a statement released by Senator Cornyn’s office, the plan is based on recommendations of a 2014 National Academies report. Continue reading

Launch Vehicles: Year in Review 2016

Recent Decline Continued, but Stage Set for Renewed Activity in 2017

Atlas V Launch

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

The year 2016 saw 85 launches into Earth orbit  (this count excludes the Falcon 9 that exploded in September, since the explosion occurred during the pre-launch phase). Launches were carried out by nine countries, utilizing 22 different launch vehicle families, built by 13 different manufacturers or organizations. Continue reading

ILS Plans to Revitalize Proton Sales

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

proton

Proton with ExoMars TGO

After dominating the commercial launch market for years – along with the Ariane 5 – the Proton is seeing a loss in appeal to commercial operators, along with a decline in sales. As a result, ILS has reduced staff and expenses to support only two to three launches per year, rather than its typical seven or eight. Continue reading

Blue Origin Conducts Successful In-Flight Escape Test

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

Blue Origin New Shepard Launch

Blue Origin New Shepard Launch

On October 5, Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket performed an in-flight test of the capsule’s full-envelope escape system, designed to quickly propel the crew capsule to safety if a problem is detected with the booster. The test flight represents the fifth launch of the booster and crew capsule.  Both the booster and capsule were successfully reused after the first four launches. Continue reading